Plastic Bag Users Face Jail Time Under New Kenya Law

Tough new ban seeks to reduce plastic pollution
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2017 6:02 PM CDT
Plastic Bag Users Face Jail Time Under New Kenya Law
A customer packs his foodstuff in a cloth carrier bag in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A ban on plastic bags came into force Monday in Kenya and those found violating the new regulation could be receive maximum fines of $38,000 or a four-year jail term.   (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)

Using a plastic bag in Kenya now comes with a hefty price. According to the Guardian, offenders of a new law banning plastic bags in the eastern African country can face up to four years in jail or fines up to $40,000. Ten years in the making, the “world’s toughest plastic bag ban” is aimed at manufacturers, sellers, and users, though the BBC reports that a grace period is being extended to consumers as the country adapts to the new law. Critics of the ban say as many as 60,000 manufacturing jobs will be lost. (Kenyans use up to 24 million plastic bags per month.)

But environmentalists are applauding the move as Kenya joins more than 40 other countries that have put restrictions on plastic bag use. “If we continue [at our current rate of plastic bag use], by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” says Habib El-Habr, an expert working with the UN environmental program in Kenya. A county vet also noted that plastic bags, which take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, are being found inside cattle in Nairobi slaughterhouses: “This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis.” (More Kenya stories.)

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